12 Answers To Your Questions: Leveling Kit Vs Lift Kit

lift kits vs leveling kits

Introduction

Both a Lift Kit and a Leveling Kit are designed to raise the ride height of a vehicle to fit larger tires and to possibly increase the overall ground clearance of your vehicle, but let’s dive a little deeper into each kit, what they are used for and how they affect your vehicle.


What is a Lift Kit?

what is a lift kit

A Lift Kit is an aftermarket body modification designed to raise your vehicles ride height and possibly it’s ground Clearance. There are two types of Lift Kits: Body Lift Kit and Suspension Lift Kit.

A Body Lift Kit will raise your vehicle’s ride height between 1-3 inches, without altering the original suspension geometry of your vehicle; this is accomplished by lifting the body of the vehicle and installing blocks or spacers between the body and frame.

A Suspension Lift Kit is designed to increase a vehicle’s ground clearance and articulation. There are a few different types of Suspension Lift Kits, each one with varying benefits to best suit your vehicle’s needs. Spring Over Axle Suspension, Torsion Keys, Shackle Reverse, Suspension Lift Kits, Shackle Suspension Lift Kits and Lifted Spring Suspension Kits.

What is a Leveling Kit?

what is a leveling kit

A Leveling Kit is basically a suspension lift for the front of your vehicle to fix the rake. Most trucks/SUV’s come from the factory with a ‘raked’ stance, this just means that the rear of the truck sits slightly higher than the front, which helps prevent bottoming out in the rear with heavy loads. A Leveling Kit can also offset the weight of a heavy winch or plow in the front of your vehicle; giving you added height and larger turning radius. Leveling Kits also come in a variety, Leaf Spring Blocks, Strut Extensions, and Coil Spacers


What Does a Lift Kit & Leveling Kit Do?

KITS Asthetics Increased Ground Clearance Increased Ride Hight Better Articulation Bigger Tires Fix ‘Rake’ Wheel Well Space Add a Winch/Plow
Lift Kit ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Leveling Kit ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️

Frequently Asked Questions

added ground clearance

Before & After Leveling Kit

raked jeep

Lifted Jeep W/ Reverse Rake

Does a Lift or Leveling Kit affect Ground Clearance?

Whether you’re off-roading, going down the road or going through the pasture with a heavy load, a higher clearance will allow you to haul and tow without damaging your suspension, drivetrain, and other components under your vehicle.

*With Suspension lifts the sky is the limit, you can obtain the most clearance with these.
*A Leveling Kit will give you about 3 inches of added ground clearance in the front of your vehicle.
*A Body Lift only raises your ride height and doesn’t directly affect ground clearance.

How much do Lift/Leveling Kits Cost?

A Body Lift and a Leveling Kit allow you to keep all stock parts and are fairly simple to install, keeping overall costs down. A Body Lift can run anywhere between $100-$750 and Leveling Kit can run anywhere between $30-$500, all depending on vehicle type and lift height.

Suspension Lifts, may require you to replace additional parts on your vehicle, such as brake lines, shocks, and tires depending on how high you go and the type of kit used. The kit itself will run you anywhere between $300-$2,500.


Can I Install a Lift/Leveling Kit Myself?

It’s not impossible to DIY these kits, in fact most manufacturers send detailed instructions to aid in the installation process, and each kit has its own difficulty level, ranging from “I can do this over the weekend” to, “maybe I should go to a mechanic.”

Leveling- Easy

A Leveling Kit is relatively simple compared to its counterparts. For this install all you’re going to need are a few wrenches and a hammer.

Body- Moderate

Body lifts can be very time-consuming because you have to lift the whole frame. Additionally, these kit may require you to add a few new notches, some trimming and maybe even some welding.

Suspension- Expert

Suspension lifts can be as easy as adding a spacer to a strut or as extreme as removing the differential & driveshaft and then cutting the frame and trimming a few parts.


jeep with suspension lift

Can I install Larger Tires With a Lift/Leveling Kit?

Each one of these kits will allow you to upgrade to a larger set of tires. How big, you ask? Well that all depends on just how high you choose to lift your vehicle, but we can give you a pretty good idea:

A 2″ Body Lift or Leveling Kit will typically give you enough room for 3-4″ increase in tire size and a 3″ Body Lift could give you enough room for up to 35″ tires! If your suspension lift is tall enough, then you can just go down your local tire shop and order the biggest set of tires they make. We’re talking monster truck big.

Can you Install a Lift and Leveling Kit together?

Installing a Leveling Kit is a prime time to add a lift to your vehicle and many Body Lift Kits include components to level the front as well as lift the rear suspension. Another popular form of lifting is to combine Leveling Kit and Body Kit; this gives you the benefits of a Suspension Lift without having to actually alter your suspension, and at a fraction of the cost.

Will adding a Lift/Leveling Kit affect my Warranty?

Suspension Lifts may void your vehicle’s warranty, depending on where you live and how high you choose to go. A Leveling Kit more than likely won’t affect your warranty, but it never hurts to check your warranty information before installing any body modification.


suspension lift installation

Will adding a Lift or Leveling Kit affect my Ride?

In most cases yes, they will affect your ride, sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it makes you second guess how high you really want to go. For instance, Some Suspension Lifts will provide your vehicle with better articulation, traction, and more camber. However, the higher you lift your vehicle the higher its center of gravity gets. A higher center of gravity increases your vehicle’s chance of body roll and could cause loss of traction during turns.

Body lifts may not offer any performance advantages but their fiberglass-reinforced nylon body blocks maintain a smooth and quiet ride. A Leveling Kit can improve ride quality/ comfort and can give your vehicle excellent articulation.

Does adding a Lift or Leveling Kit affect my Suspension Wear?

Depending on how high you lift your vehicle you may be replacing suspension components like ball joints sooner than anticipated due to the added stress the lift will put on them (This is primarily an issue with Suspension Lifts).


Parting Knowledge

Just to recap a Lift Kit such as a Body Lift or a Suspension Lift is an after-market body modification designed to raise your vehicles ride height and possibly it’s ground Clearance. And a Leveling Kit is basically a suspension lift for the front of your vehicle designed to fix the rake. Each of these kits can be used for different things from better articulation to bigger tires to increased ground clearance.

Whether you’re looking to give your Jeep that little extra edge out on the road, wanting to upgrade your rock crawler to take on some next level trails, or just want to level out your work truck, we hope we’ve equipped you with the knowledge needed to make the choice between a lift kit or a leveling kit, or at least given you some nice pictures to look at.

Want to learn more about body lifts and suspension lifts? Check out our Body Lift Vs. Suspension Lift post!

lifted truck
25 comments
  1. Brit
    Brit
    August 27, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Could you double up the body lift (Two 3″ kits) and still maintain a stable ride?

    Reply
    • Krissy Rose
      Krissy Rose • Post Author •
      August 27, 2018 at 12:56 pm

      Hey Brit,

      Great question! It is possible to stack body lifts on top of each other however, it is unsafe. Since you will need to purchase longer bolts from a third party the bolts could start to move, potentially causing harm to your vehicle and even you. This being said it is very common to stack a body lift and a leveling kit, in fact, Daystar sells many of these combo kits. These kits are great because they are less expensive than a suspension kit but give you a little extra height than just a singular kit would.

      Now if you’re just looking to get a 6-inch lift or higher, I would suggest a suspension lift kit, these kits are going to be the safest choice for such a high lift. The big differences between a body lift and a suspension lift are ground clearance and price; a suspension lift offers more ground clearance but is higher, and a body lift is cheaper but doesn’t offer any additional ground clearance. Another option would be to combine a body lift kit and a suspension lift kit to obtain the best of both worlds with optimal ground clearance, articulated suspension and lower center of gravity than a straight suspension lift. Additionally, you might need to check with the regulations/restrictions of your state on lift kits because some have a height limit for those daily drivers.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Brit
        Brit
        October 12, 2018 at 11:41 am

        Thank you so much Krissy for the detailed reply! This helps a bunch on my future project planning.

        Reply
  2. John Banister
    John Banister
    July 15, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks for posting this information – cleared up some confusion I had about lift versus level. I am trying to beef up my 2017 Ford Explorer for off road, the factory ground clearance, especially the front end is stupidly low. J.

    Reply
    • Krissy Rose
      Krissy Rose • Post Author •
      July 16, 2020 at 10:39 am

      Glad we could help John!

      If you ever have any questions about different lifting or leveling options or really any other questions about mods or parts for any of your vehicles we’d be happy to talk with you about it.

      Reply
    • RandomPersonBrowsingTheInternet
      RandomPersonBrowsingTheInternet
      October 16, 2020 at 5:27 pm

      I don’t think you can lift a 2017 Ford Explorer. They happen to be a unibody crossover instead of a body on frame truck based SUV.

      Reply
      • Josh Daniels
        Josh Daniels
        October 27, 2020 at 10:48 am

        I don’t know about a body lift but I’m sure there are suspension lifts for 2017 Explorers out there.

        Reply
  3. James
    James
    July 28, 2020 at 11:00 am

    I got a 6″ Rough Country lift put on my truck. I love it but it does ride a bit rough on bumpy roads. I was wondering if I can add something to the existing set up to soften the ride a bit?

    Reply
    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels
      July 29, 2020 at 1:12 pm

      Hey James,

      There are a few things you can try but with a 6″ lift you’re never going to get the ride back to what it was before. The center of gravity has been raised quite a bit and that is going to affect ride quality. It’s just the trade off you make for more ground clearance.

      First and easiest suggestion is to run a little less Psi in your tires as long as you keep them above max load. This can soften the ride a little and might be enough for your taste.

      Beyond that you’re looking at different shocks or springs and this decision should be based on your designs for the truck. Are you off roading heavily or do you spend most of your time on black top? Do you value a smoother ride over performance handling? There are shocks and springs for different driving styles or you can use adjustable shocks to stiffen or smooth out the ride based on what type of driving you’re planning on doing.

      Like we said at the beginning, you’re not going to achieve the smoothness of your pre-lift truck but these things can soften it a bit.

      If you have more questions about what is available for your specific make and model you can contact our customer support folks through chat, email, or phone.

      Thanks for the question James and good luck.

      Reply
  4. Connor Kutchback
    Connor Kutchback
    September 14, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    Could you do a body lift kit on a truck that has already had a leveling kit added to it?

    Reply
    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels
      September 16, 2020 at 10:08 am

      Hey Connor,

      It’s very doable. It will depend on the make and model, but in most cases a leveling kit is actually a small suspension lift consisting of two blocks that install on the top of the front struts. There’s no reason you couldn’t add a body lift after that in most cases.

      If you want to talk specific options you can let us know the make/model/year you’re looking at or you can contact our customer service folks.

      Hope this was helpful.

      Reply
  5. Tim Watters
    Tim Watters
    September 23, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Hi, I have a 2017 GMC Denali 2500 I’m looking into a leveling kit. I’m afraid I will loose my comfortable ride. Is this true?
    Thanks!
    Tim

    Reply
    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels
      September 28, 2020 at 1:54 pm

      Hey Tim,

      A leveling kit is basically a suspension lift for the front of a vehicle and any adjustment to the suspension height will have some effect on handling or comfort. Most times the lift provided in a leveling kit is 1/2 – 2 inches so the effect is usually small. The most noticeable change would likely be more body roll during a turn, so if that is part of your definition of “comfort” then comfort can be affected.

      Thanks for the question and hope this was helpful.

      Reply
  6. Calvin
    Calvin
    September 30, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    I have seen that there are leveling kits for the rear of my truck also. Would it be posible to buy a leveling kit for the front, and a leveling kit for the back to get an overall raise of a couple inches? So put a leveling kit on both ends. Let me know, Thanks

    Reply
    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels
      October 1, 2020 at 8:23 am

      Hey Calvin,

      Yes, you could install two leveling kits. I wonder why not just buy a 2 inch suspension lift since a leveling kit is essentially half of a suspension lift? It just seems like a more complicated and probably more expensive way of achieving the same effect unless you’re getting a really good deal on the leveling kits.

      Leveling kits are generally used to correct a front raked stance (lower front, higher rear) in pick-up trucks. If you’re looking for more ground clearance, and your truck has a raked stance, then a front leveling kit by itself will increase your ground clearance since the front is the lowest point of vehicles with that stance. Adding a kit to the rear will increase ground clearance in the rear but not the overall ground clearance of the vehicle.

      As an aside, if you’re going for the aesthetic of a taller ride, and don’t really care about the ground clearance, you can accomplish that look for less cash with a 2 inch body lift.

      Hope this helps and good luck with lifting your truck.

      Reply
  7. Judy Davey
    Judy Davey
    October 25, 2020 at 8:01 am

    I just purchased a vehicle with a 5.5″ lift already on it. It appears the tires may be rubbing. Any ideas what I need to
    do to correct this?

    Reply
    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels
      October 27, 2020 at 10:48 am

      Hey Judy,

      Are the tires rubbing on normal road driving or after a big bump or when the suspension is maxed out? What to do is going to depend on the circumstances under which the tires are rubbing.

      First step would be having the alignment checked. After that trimming or otherwise making more room for the the arc of the tire movement is going to be a good bet. Adjusting the wheel’s caster angle can also help keep the tires from coming into contact with your vehicle when the tire is at maximum turn in some situations. Or smaller diameter tires 🙂

      Without more details its hard to give a more complete answer, but if you would like to go deeper on the subject you can give our customer service folks a call and ask for Edwin.

      Good luck and hope this helped.

      Reply
  8. Vigan
    Vigan
    November 30, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    I just purchased a 3 inch rough country lift kit for my 4th gen 4runner and I already have a leveling kit on it from the previous owner. Will replacing the leveling kit with the lift kit still keep the front and rear level or will it cause the front to “rake” again? I’m wondering if I should add the leveling kit to the lift. Also, do you hear about body roll a lot with RC lifts (only 3inch)? especially if I am removing my X-REAS system from the 4runner?

    Reply
    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels
      December 11, 2020 at 10:16 am

      Hey Vigan,

      There are a few factors to consider here:

      1) Is the 3in kit a suspension lift or a body lift?
      With a body lift you shouldn’t have any trouble stacking it with a leveling kit. Depending on the kit a suspension lift might require removing the leveling kit since often times they both make use of strut spacers.

      2) Does the kit specify a different lift height for the front and rear?
      Some lift kits take a vehicle’s factory rake into account and will lift the front 3in and the rear by 1-2in, leveling out the rake for you. If this is the case then a leveling kit can actually cause the rake to reverse, leaving you with a taller front end.

      We don’t carry RC lifts so we haven’t heard customer feedback on the body roll with those. Generally body roll increase will depend on whether you are installing a body lift or a suspension lift, since a body lift will keep the center of gravity lower and thus produce less body roll. 2-3in lifts won’t typically make a drastic change in body roll but you could hit up the forums for your vehicle and see if someone has some first hand knowledge of that kit with your year model.

      Hope this was helpful and if you have any other questions let us know.

      Reply
  9. txagccr04
    txagccr04
    January 9, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    Is a 2.5” level kit from readylift good for 2021 Jeep gladiator?

    Reply
    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels
      January 22, 2021 at 10:05 am

      Hey Tx,

      We don’t carry that brand so we don’t have much in the way of customer feedback regarding it. Your best bet might be to hit up a Jeep forum online to get a first hand experience from someone who has installed that kit.

      As long as you’re here though, you might take a look at Daystar’s 2″ Lift Kit for the Jeep Gladiator JT. The kevlar-infused polyurethane coil spring spacers are durable enough for the trail but also take the edge off the harshness transferred from the road to the driver. This affordable, bolt-on kit has gone through rigorous R&D and is covered by a Go Everywhere Lifetime Warranty, just in case you’re shopping around.

      Have a good one Tx.

      Reply
  10. Joe
    Joe
    February 24, 2021 at 8:36 am

    Hi, I currently have a 2.5″ front end leveling kit installed on my Ram 1500 but I’m interested in a 4″ or 6″ suspension lift. I understand that most suspension lift kits include leveling components but from where the truck sits currently with the 2.5″ leveling kit, how much more lift will the suspension lift kits actually give me? Would it actually be an additional 4″ or 6″ from where the truck sits now?

    Reply
    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels
      February 24, 2021 at 4:33 pm

      Hey Joe,

      I don’t know the specifics of your vehicle or current leveling kit but I don’t imagine you would be able to stack a suspension lift on a leveling kit in the front. The suspension lift will likely replace the front leveling kit so you’re trading a 2.5″ lift for a 4″ or 6″ lift. So, if you go with a 4″ lift you would be gaining 1.5″ of ground clearance/ride height.

      If you’re looking for more ground clearance then you’ll need a full suspension lift kit, but if increased ride height is your goal then you might consider keeping the leveling kit and getting a 2-4″ body lift kit as this would be much cheaper, keep a lower center of gravity, and give you a ride height increase of 2″ to 4″ though your ground clearance would not change.

      Thanks for the question and if you have any more just let us know.

      Reply
  11. Melissa
    Melissa
    March 30, 2021 at 10:12 pm

    I have a 2007 Ford f150 with 33×12.50r20 tires, I’m not sure what the lift is but it looks like a 2″ leveling kit or less. The lift must not be enough or not the right one since my control arm, tie rod ends, struts, brakes and rotors have all needed to be replaced. I’ve been doing some research and believe a 2″ control arm and 2″ leveling struts could fix the problem its causing but I’ve also been told I had to get a 4″ lift. I dont think I can afford the 4″ lift with all the parts I have to replace on top of that, just want it done right and affordable.

    Reply
    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels
      March 31, 2021 at 2:27 pm

      Hey Melissa,

      A 2 inch lift is generally a safe bet in terms of the alignment of other components since most of the stock components can handle the angle shift that a 2 inch lift imposes.

      Since your truck is 14 years old at this point, normal wear and tear may have had a hand in the need for replacement of those parts, especially if the road conditions or terrain have been rough or the mileage high. Larger tires can also cause higher than normal wear, especially over a long period of time.

      If you’re replacing the OEM parts on your truck it may just be that their time was up.

      If you want a more detailed explanation from an experienced Ford mechanic you can call our customer support folks and ask for Ed.

      Here’s hoping you get it all squared away.

      Reply

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